Continuous delivery (CD) is more than a buzzword. In fact, CD today drives development and operations (DevOps) teams at enterprises around the world.
>A Closer Look at CD
Continuous delivery refers to a software engineering approach based on agility and flexibility. It involves building software in short cycles and quickly implementing changes into the production process.
Additionally, continuous delivery is a key tenet of a high-performing DevOps team for a number of reasons, including:
- Reduced Risk: DevOps teams can apply patterns to identify and address risks early in the software development cycle.
- Faster Time to Market: DevOps teams can incorporate integration and regression testing into their everyday efforts to accelerate the software delivery lifecycle from weeks to days.
- Improved Quality: DevOps teams can use automated tools to quickly discover problems during the software development lifecycle. Meanwhile, team members can reallocate time and resources from performing manual processes to conducting exploratory, usability, performance and security testing to consistently produce high-quality deliverables.
- Lower Costs: DevOps teams can leverage build, test, deployment and environment automation tools to reduce software development and deployment costs, as well as eliminate various fixed software delivery costs.
- Increased Employee Satisfaction: DevOps team members frequently engage with one another throughout the software development lifecycle, leading to increased employee satisfaction and talent retention.
Continuous Delivery helps DevOps teams streamline the software release process. Perhaps best of all, it always ensures DevOps teams can build deployment-ready software that has tested and optimized.
Building a Successful CD Pipeline Is a Major Challenge
Although many DevOps teams strive to develop a successful CD pipeline, doing so often proves to be difficult.
A CD pipeline cannot be bought, and instead, must be implemented into a DevOps team’s day-to-day activities and culture. Yet some DevOps teams struggle to integrate a CD pipeline across all levels of their operations.
With a ground-up approach to CD pipeline development and implementation, a DevOps team can help a business achieve its immediate and long-term goals. In this scenario, DevOps team members will understand how to leverage CD so they can get the most out of it.
Deploy a Successful CD Pipeline
There is a lot to like about continuous delivery, yet developing and implementing a CD pipeline rarely happens overnight.
Ultimately, there are several things that a DevOps team can do to build a successful CD pipeline from the ground-up. These include:
- Develop a CD mindset. A clear-cut CD pipeline is a must-have. This pipeline includes automated software tests, fixing code problems throughout a build and ensuring software deployment remains on track. With this pipeline in place, DevOps team members will know exactly what to do at each stage of the process and can work together to foster a team-wide CD mindset.
- Use continuous integration (CI). CD and CI may seem similar, but it is important to understand the differences between the two. CI involves merging software code into an automated build process, followed by running automated tests when updated code is integrated into a source code depository. Thus, CI can be performed without CD, but CD cannot be performed without CI. By including CI in a CD pipeline, however, a DevOps team can quickly upgrade software to meet consumer and market demands. As a result, this team may be better equipped than ever before to deliver the best-possible software, at the right time, every time.
- Leverage a “hands-off” environment for additional production testing. A DevOps team should set up a “hands-off” environment between software development and production that enables it to perform system, user acceptance, staging and pre-production tests. That way, a DevOps team can use the “hands-off” environment to validate that its software is ready for deployment.
- Deploy software across every environment at the same time. Once software is ready for production, a DevOps team should automate the software’s release across all environments. This helps a DevOps team troubleshoot and address any deployment process issues.
- Fail fast and resolve issues quickly. If a problem interrupts the CD pipeline, allocate the necessary time and resources to resolve this issue. A DevOps team should find out why the problem occurred and address its root cause. Otherwise, failure to resolve the issue could cause the problem to crop up once again.
- Prioritize automation. Manual steps slow down a DevOps team, along with the software delivery lifecycle. Yet if a DevOps team constantly evaluates its CD pipeline, it may identify ways to automate manual processes.
- Take advantage of version control systems. It is crucial to track every database change, configuration file and script that is part of a software release package. Thanks to a version control system like GitHub or Team Foundation, a DevOps team can do just that. A version control system ensures binaries are stored in a package repository and can be accessed at any time.
- Integrate database changes into your CD pipeline. Remember, database changes are part of a software release and should be integrated into the CD pipeline accordingly. A DevOps team can integrate these changes into its CD pipeline via applications or third-party tools such as FlyWay or Liquidbase.
- Track your CD pipeline. When it comes to a CD pipeline, there is always room for improvement. By performing regular CD pipeline analysis, a DevOps team may be able to identify problems before they escalate. Plus, a DevOps team can monitor telemetry throughout its CD pipeline to detect problems before they impact software production.
A holistic approach to continuous delivery is vital, too. If a DevOps team is dedicated to ongoing CD pipeline improvement, it can limit downtime, outages and other delays and deliver fast, efficient and high-performing software.
The Bottom Line on Continuous Delivery
Whereas some DevOps teams dedicate significant time and resources to perform manual tasks, CD empowers DevOps teams to rethink the way they work.
CD helps a DevOps team bolster its software development and deployment processes. It also enables a DevOps team to use a sustainable pipeline to minimize risk.
Start building a CD pipeline today – you will be happy you did. If a DevOps team develops a successful DevOps pipeline, it can speed up and enhance its software delivery lifecycle both now and in the future.